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A Look at FreeNAS Server 214

Posted by ScuttleMonkey
from the you-can-never-have-too-much-storage-space dept.
NewsForge (Also owned by VA) has a quick look at FreeNAS, an open source network attached storage server that can be deployed on pretty much any old PC you have sitting around the house. From the article: "The software, which is based on FreeBSD, Samba, and PHP, includes an operating system that supports various software RAID models and a Web user interface. The server supports access from Windows machines, Apple Macs, FTP, SSH, and Network File System (NFS), and it takes up less than 16MB of disk space on a hard drive or removable media."
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A Look at FreeNAS Server

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  • NAS (Score:3, Insightful)

    by certel (849946) on Tuesday May 30, 2006 @01:41PM (#15429501) Homepage
    Would a NAS device not require some pretty good processing power under a bit of a load? I know of course it would be scalable based on the usage, but still, the notion that it runs on 'any old system' wouldn't be entirely true.
    • Re:NAS (Score:3, Informative)

      by nharmon (97591)
      Normally, no. The article mentioned setting up a software RAID 5 array. This still probably wouldn't overwhelm a half-decent processor (400mhz+), unless one of the drives had to be replaced. Then the processor will be swamped while it recovers.
      • Seriously. I had to rebuild my array on my file server, which is 700 gigabytes. It has 4 250 gig drives connected with an Adaptec 2400 card (ATA). It took a day and a half to rebuild. I can't imagine how many days or weeks a software RAID 5 would take to rebuild........
        • Re:NAS (Score:3, Funny)

          by Anonymous Coward
          I had to rebuild my array on my file server, which is 700 gigabytes. It has 4 250 gig drives

          That sure is a lot of p0rn. You might want to get some help.

          • Re:NAS (Score:3, Funny)

            by 0racle (667029)
            Everyone always assumes a huge datastore at home is for porn. It's just as likely that its for illegal downloads. Those movies and series take up a hell of a lot of space.
    • Re:NAS (Score:3, Informative)

      by Orange Crush (934731)
      Why? All it's doing is serving up files via Samba shares. I have 20 clients connected to a Debian/Samba box with a 1 ghz P3, 1 gig Ram, and a couple 80 gig IDE drives (no RAID or anythign) . . . not under much strain at all, actually. I know intensive IDE transactions need a lot of CPU, but we're talking about shared office docs. I can't imagine drive operations getting all that intensive when the major bottleneck in this case is going to be to 100mbit ethernet card.
    • Re:NAS (Score:5, Informative)

      by questionlp (58365) on Tuesday May 30, 2006 @01:56PM (#15429626) Homepage
      I think the bottleneck will first be with your network connection (primarily if it's 100Mbps). With Gigabit Ethernet, your hard drives or drive array would be the next bottleneck (mostly if your network and storage controller are on the same PCI bus).

      A lot of the SOHO NAS boxes run off of ARM processors, which are both power efficient but also able to handle the basic I/O needs of a NAS box. Granted, SOHO NAS boxes aren't meant for large companies or large workgroups, but would fit in as a departmental file server for testing or near-distance storage.

      Higher end NAS boxes due use more powerful servers to handle 1+ Gigabit Ethernet connections, iSCSI or Fibre Channel, multiple PCI-X busses or multiple 4-8x PCI Express drops, and large amounts of RAM for caching and such. For instance, the latest corporate NAS boxes fron Snap/Adaptec use Opteron processors.

      I've ran a small workgroup file server off of a Pentium Pro 200/256K with 256MB of RAM and several 9GB SCSI drives in RAID-5 and the bottleneck was definitely the two 100Mbps Ethernet connections. Of course, YMMV.
    • Not necessarily.... (Score:4, Informative)

      by PainBreak (794152) on Tuesday May 30, 2006 @02:05PM (#15429723)
      I can't comment on FreeNAS, because I have never used it, but Quantum Snap NAS devices (which were later rebranded as Dell PowerVault NAS devices) handle decent loads (100+ users at a time), and utilize a proprietary *nix OS with 32MB onboard ram and a MASSIVE Pentium 233 MMX. It's also doing software RAID. I'd say "Any Old Box" is probably a good fit.
      • I'm not sure that Dell still builds the PowerVaults with a proprietary *nix OS or software RAID. The Dell PowerVault 755N systems we used had MS Windows 2000 Advanced Server installed with the Microsoft Services For UNIX (SFU). Looking at the Dell site now under "Storage PowerVault NAS Server", they look to have moved to PowerEdge 8301 featuring Windows Storage Server 2003 R2 [dell.com] and I don't see any mention of MS SFU. If I recall though, Microsoft was offering this for free but it looks like Dell isn't supp
        • Software RAID is documented. If it fails, you can plug the drives into another system that understands the RAID format and get at the data. Hardware RAID is often propietary and all-or-nothing. You're not going to get much help on recovering your data from Promise or Adaptec when one of your cards go south. They'll say: "But didn't you keep recent backups???" (which is The Truth (tm) but still...)
          • I've only dealt with NetApp and Dell PowerVault so I can't say what happens with Promise or Adaptec. I do have a HighPoint RAID controller on my home PC but it only supports mirroring and striping if I remember correctly. In the case of NetApp at least, I have dual controllers so if one fails, the other takes over. We do keep backups but not so much for hardware failure but human error (also have "snapshots" to assist with this too). My understanding though with NetApp is that you can plug the disk into
            • NetApp is a different animal. They have some kind of uber-database FS so I would expect their disks to be self-identifying and pluggable... this concept extends to volumes and clusters in their high end equipment. I'm pretty confident the non-Windows based NAS products from Dell are just as hardy.
              But Promise, HighPoint, LSI, Adaptec, etc. and the others could care less. They'll setup something that works on your disks and store some configuration on the drives, and the rest in NVRAM, but good luck moving th
            • Re:::shakes head:: (Score:3, Informative)

              by drsmithy (35869)
              [Software RAID is documented. If it fails, you can plug the drives into another system that understands the RAID format and get at the data.]

              I haven't dealt with software RAID enough to know how accurate that statement is.

              Speaking as someone who has moved a single array between about 5 machines over its lifetime, including from kernel 2.4 machines to kernel 2.6 machines, I'd say that if you've got a Linux software RAID array, it'll probably work on any Linux machine you can find to plug it into (assuming

    • Re:NAS (Score:3, Interesting)

      by harrkev (623093)
      I am certainly not an expert on NAS...

      Gigabit ethernet is pretty rare on the type of old hardware that typically gets pressed into NAS usage. It would not take too much processing horsepower to saturate a 100 Mb/s link. If, on the other hand, you system has gigabit built-in, I suspect that it has a processor attached that can handle it.

      But, if you are the type of guy to attach a PCI gigabit ethernet port to an old P-3, then the processor might not be able to keep up.

      And now for something completely differ
    • Our family used to use an AMD K6 for this (FreeBSD 4.x, Samba, etc). We have 4 laptops including 2 Macs, 3 windows desktops, and 2 i386 FBSD workstations, 2 Ultrasparc workstations, and... - yes, in our house! The NAS has run 24/7 since whenever 4.1 was released, non-stop (except when the HDs were upgraded). A couple of weeks ago, we upgraded to a Sun Ultra5 (still FreeBSD, but 6.1), Samba, etc). Wonderful - massively faster! No problems upgrading, and all for £40 worth of hardware from EBay.

      But we

    • Typically small file servers do not require a lot of CPU power. The comsumner level NAS boxes you buy for home or small office use use very low end CPUs not much different from what you find on a home router/firewall.

      But if youinstall a large scale RAID array and four gigabit eethernet interfaces and hook it up to all 250 PCs in an office where all therusers keep their data on the server then yes you might want a modern server class computer.

  • Isnt that a software package?
  • Ooh (Score:4, Interesting)

    by MaestroSartori (146297) on Tuesday May 30, 2006 @01:45PM (#15429527) Homepage
    I've been looking for something like this for a while now. I was contemplating one of those pre-built consumer level NAS (like the Terastation), but a nice tailored setup like this could tempt me to build my own. I need storage space for samples, I make lots of music with them :)
    • Agreed. I handle a lot of MiniDV and DVCAM material (works fine over 100MB ethernet) on multiple machines, so something like this looks pretty appealing price-wise.
  • by j2crux (969051) on Tuesday May 30, 2006 @01:46PM (#15429541)
    But I fell in love with something called a Kuro-box. Here's a link, http://kurobox.com/revolution/what.html [kurobox.com] From the site: The KuroBox is a small-footprint Linux-based embedded platform for a personal server. The current incarnation of the KuroBox, the KuroBox/HG, sports a 266Mhz PowerPC processor, 128MB of RAM, 2 USB 2.0 Ports, and a 10/100/1000Mbit network interface. I got mine off ebay (with a 250 hdd) for ~$200, and I couldnt be happier!
    • by sholden (12227) on Tuesday May 30, 2006 @02:03PM (#15429678) Homepage
      There are a bunch of consumer level devices designed to have a USB hard drive plugged into them and export SMB shares from it. They are all around $80 or so. I have this one: http://www1.linksys.com/products/product.asp?prid= 640 [linksys.com] but there are a bunch of ones by other companies.

      It runs linux out of the box, but I've flashed mine to run a full debian system, only 32MB of RAM is the main draw back. But its attached to 3 USB drives in a software RAID, and a CD storage device, and a thumb drive (for the main system - so the disks don't get hit by every cron job). Plus plugging my digital camera into it downloads all the photos into dated directories on the 'photos' share. It also serves some web pages, mainly a cgi interface to eject disks from the CD storage device.

      Works well for me, and it's a reasonably cheap and pysically small (and very underpowered CPU/memory wise) linux machine with 2 USB ports and a network port.
      • There are a bunch of consumer level devices designed to have a USB hard drive plugged into them and export SMB shares from it. They are all around $80 or so. I have this one: http://www1.linksys.com/products/product.asp?prid = [linksys.com] 640 but there are a bunch of ones by other companies.

        *nods enthusiastically*

        I've got one of these too --- it's awesome. It's my house server; it's got 250GB of disk, and it does firewall and routing services with two ethernet interfaces, it's my internal file server via NFS, my ou

      • Don't run cron jobs on NAS. Bad, bad!!!
        You don't need to run slocate on a system you never use for interactive processing. ;)
        Hell, don't run anything not directly related to moving data in and out of the system. Demand-based load is easy to model and there's less chance it'll fail unexpectedly (like when you're on vacation or something).
    • What I want is an ethernet-based (iSCSI) consumer-grade SAN. I want to buy a box with five or six drive bays, pack it full of 500GB SATA disks, and then send it over the network to my desktop. That would be perfect for me. As an add-on, there could also be a head unit that plugs into the disk box (or many disk boxes on a consumer-grade gigabit switch) and does RAID, SMB, NFS, whatever.

      I don't understand why there aren't any products like this. I can buy an adapter that goes into 3 5.25" drive bays and

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday May 30, 2006 @01:46PM (#15429544)
    What most people forget about these kinds of systems is that they have fairly hefty power consumption. Until the past year or so, desktop manufacturers placed very little emphasis on truly minimizing power consumption. They do manage to hold it within reason, but often that's no enough.

    Dedicated storage systems are often designed in such a way so as to minimize the amount of power they consume. Some use several ARM or MIPS CPUs, which can offer suitable processing capabilities without the immense energy consumption of even a single x86 chip. The dedicated hardware itself is designed so as to eliminate unnecessary circuitry.

    When it comes to users who have hundreds of these machines, the energy savings of a dedicated system often far outweigh the initial savings of going with a PC/FreeNAS-style combination. Even smaller-scale users, who may only have a single machine, will notice the savings if they choose to use their system for several years.

    • Can you give some examples? I don't see where you're going to minimize power consumption no matter what you use, because your drive array is going to require a good-quality power supply that can handle multiple 12v lines. You can run it headless, but hard drives are power-hungry no matter what.
    • It would be very interesting to see an "energy saving" hack for old PCs. Because, like many of us, I have a lot of older machines laying around. They're my old PCs or were given to me by clients, family, friends, etc.

      It's sad they're not being used. But I wouldn't just plug the whole bunch either, the electricity bill would be ridiculous.

      Does anyone know of an easy way to reduce CPU/disks power consumption? These machines could definately serve some purpose, but they shouldn't end up costing more than a new

      • It is called "underclocking"...

        If you have a "overclocking" mobo, you can probably quite easily underclock it as well. If, on the other hand, your mobo says "Dell" on it, then you probably don't have access to the BIOS screens necessary to do that. You can find Windows software that might be able to do the job (depending upon chipset), but who runs Windows for a NAS server?
        But, with that being said, modern hardware is better. Taking an Athlon 64 and cranking the clock speed down by a factor of 10 and dro
        • If you have a "overclocking" mobo, you can probably quite easily underclock it as well.
          I tried to underclock my Athlon XP 2100+ the other day. Obviously the multiplier is locked, so I figured I'd just turn down the FSB (maybe to 100 MHz instead of 133, or something). I have a Gigabyte 7VRXP motherboard. To my surprise and dismay, even though you can change the FSB, you can only adjust it up but not down! The minimum is 133MHz. Stupid Gigabyte...
          • Not that I have tried recently, but I thought that the multiplier is only locked not to go ABOVE a certain value. I thought that you could always go down. At least that is my experience with Athlon 64s. I have never tried with an Athlon XP.
    • Some use several ARM or MIPS CPUs, which can offer suitable processing capabilities without the immense energy consumption of even a single x86 chip.

      A regular Pentium 4 draws on the order of 65 watts [intel.com]. At $0.12/kWh, that's .065kW*24h/d*.12$/kWh*365d/y = $68 dollars per year. Even if the custom NAS's CPU runs on air, you'd have to run the Pentium system for a long time to make up the difference in cost.

    • What most people forget about these kinds of systems is that they have fairly hefty power consumption. Until the past year or so, desktop manufacturers placed very little emphasis on truly minimizing power consumption. They do manage to hold it within reason, but often that's no enough.

      Dedicated storage systems are often designed in such a way so as to minimize the amount of power they consume.

      Who told you that? Maybe for the little tiny junior-grade ones that you can buy from linksys and whatnot..

  • There is virtually no user security. Any authenticated user has full rights to all data on the system. Fine for home, but until they get user security figured out, not ready for anything more than that. And given that it wants to play nice with Windoze, *Nix, and Apple, the security is gonna be the hard part. *NIX without maddeningly granular security ... who'da thunk? doc
    • This does not differ from most corporate setups: actually securing SMB is difficult enough, and actually securing NFS is historically a very bad joke. It's called "No F***ing Security" for a reason.

      A cheap box like this can actually help, by providing good guides on how to properly authenticate the server, and not forcing users to home-brew their SSH or Kerberos or NFSv4 or Samba or Netatalk setups from scratch, on OS's that do some of them well but not others.
  • OpenFiler? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Gothmolly (148874) on Tuesday May 30, 2006 @01:59PM (#15429644)
    How is this any different than the OpenFiler Project [openfiler.org]?
    • I had not heard of Openfiler before. It looks pretty interesting. Differences from FreeNAS that I noticed are:

      o Linux based
      o iSCSI target and initiator (SAN) support

      I've been using the "Enterprise iSCSI Target" [slashdot.org] for Linux for a while now and it works pretty good. I serve up LVM slices to a Windows 2000 Server without trouble. The combination of EIT and LVM provide a lot of high end SAN features.

      With redards to SAN features, I'm really looking forward to a unification of SCSI target drivers on Linux (http [berlios.de]
    • Re:OpenFiler? (Score:3, Informative)

      by un1xl0ser (575642)
      OpenFiler is based on CentOS 3. It does NOT fit in a small footprint. The point of FreeNAS wasn't to have a different installer and a web interface to polish it up, it was for a small footprint.
      • You're wrong in saying that it needs a base CentOS distribution and then installs on top of it. Openfiler is a standalone installable distribution. Please read about Openfiler's features [openfiler.com] and please decide for yourself how FreeNAS compares to it. I'm not saying FreeNAS doesn't have a market (the home market).. however you should be careful comparing cars and buses.

        • I never said that it needs a base installation. I said that it was based on CentOS... which is correct.

          Openfiler is a pre-configured copy of CentOS. I assume that how they do this is with a series of packages in the base distribution. It has a lot of features, because it is a full Linux distro.

          In FreeNAS, the OS is a kernel and a compressed (RO) ramdisk that is normally stored on a CF/SD card. The whole OS takes up less than 16mb of space. The kernel boots and loads the OS into RAM. It then loads the config
  • by GlobalEcho (26240) on Tuesday May 30, 2006 @01:59PM (#15429648)
    I can set up Samba, etc. on just about any box. What defies me is setting up OpenAFS. How about a server that supports OpenAFS [openafs.org] or Coda [cmu.edu]?
  • by Graboid (975267) on Tuesday May 30, 2006 @01:59PM (#15429650)
    As others have said, been there done that with Linux/BSD. Nice to have a dedicated package, but it's definitely not for the casual user and requires dedicated drives/machines (as one would expect for RAID).

    I was amused that he could screw up the installation so easily by just creating a local user and it lacked auto-configuration. Imagine that in a review of a commercial product. "Easy to use and install, but it locked me out of my system and required a re-install and it couldn't find my network card".

    Fact is, folks just expect open source to be a pain in the ass to work with and require tweaking or extreme attention to detail. It's almost a right of passage. And users accept and embrace it on a scale they would NEVER accept from a commercial product - particularly 'evil' Microsoft.

    Anyway, nice open source addition, but it definitely belongs in the open source group (as in not-ready-for-normal-people group).
  • Humm... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by wolenczak (517857) <paco@cot e r a . o rg> on Tuesday May 30, 2006 @02:02PM (#15429665) Homepage
    What's new about this? Been doing that for years!, Where's the difference between this box and a linuxbox with samba/nfs/fstab properly configured?

    I would think that a home NAS is a case where I can toss in any spare harddrive i find, plug it to the network and that's it. Not a whooooole PC.
  • by sbrown123 (229895) on Tuesday May 30, 2006 @02:02PM (#15429673) Homepage
    I want a network attached storage device for home but prices vary from $500 to $2000+. I also want to run my own apps like Subversion. But I can't find any cheap, compact, and power efficient hardware for doing this. Any ideas?
    • Yeah, old. Lots of ma & pop computer repair shops will have old desktops for sale for a song... the only problem is you could also just go buy a brand new $300 dell, so you gotta kinda pick and choose. The key on these systems is not to get stuck on the "just upgrade this" mentality we computer folks are so fond of.

      I'm running exactly what you're describing on old p3-500's without a hitch... they're free to the office they went in because they were decommisioned from service, and rather than donating aw
      • I have several old computers but I avoid using them for several reasons:

        1. they are rather large.
        2. they are noisy.
        3. they consume too much power. I want to run a NAS 24-7.

        Someone mention the KuroBox a few posts up from me. The KuroBox looks like what I am looking for but I am reading threads for other options.
        • 1. they are rather large. 2. they are noisy. 3. they consume too much power. I want to run a NAS 24-7.

          bullshit. i've got an old sff [ramel.free.fr] as a server and ipaq [winsupersite.com] as a workstation -- very small, can't hear them, draw ~30W each.

    • Unless I need to do some seriously CPU intensive stuff - VPN concentrator, encryption, etc - I find that EPIA boards are almost always the answer. (Note to would be moderators: please observe the use of "almost" before you start bitching.)
      My most recent "standard setup" includes EPIA M1s in Aspire cube cases - http://atic.ca/index.php?page=LongDesc&sku=27476 [atic.ca]. Use a LianLI EX-23B for the RAID drives and the space inside the case for the system HD, and you're ready to fly.
      YMMV, and all that.
      • Hear hear! I'm currently using an EPIA TC10000 as main home server and am extremely happy with it (providing all the "usual" services). Onboard 12V DC-DC PSU means I can simply connect a car battery in parallel to have a UPS and avoid all the inefficiency that normally comes with a UPS (mains -> transformer -> inverter -> PSU -> mainboard). Power consumption is truly minimal and so are noise levels, and I can't say I've had any stability problems even at longer periods of high loads.
    • Fry's has been advertising a PC with an AMD Geode CPU for $150. Presumably it's preloaded with Linux, so it shouldn't have problems with drivers and it's in a normal mid-tower case so presumably it has room for an extra hard drive or two. It should use very little power too.

      Otherwise, I'd say build a system around a Via Epia, but those are about $100+ just for the mobo/CPU, and might not be able to beat the Geode in terms of power consumption.
    • Linksys NSLU2. Slow throughput though. Also, it doesn't spin hard drives down. There's a decent community around this device, which will allow you to replace the firmware and then start installing your choice of services.
  • by caudron (466327) on Tuesday May 30, 2006 @02:05PM (#15429717) Homepage
    Tell me why we don't see cheap network appliances at Walmart and Bestbuy that accept USB drives and printers all in one convenient box.

    I see the "cheap" drive sharing boxes and the "cheap" printer sharing boxes but, given how easy it is to set up SAMBA on a VERY low end device, why don't we see any that do both?

    And while I'm on the subject, why don't we see cheap server appliances for other services? Is it lack of market demand that keeps me from being about the buy a low power, cheap apache server in a box the size of a cable modem? Same for proftpd and squirrelmail/postfix/mailman? Seriously, I know the market is limited, but it's hardly non-existent! Especially if they made it easy to set up and use, then ANYONE could be an end point. That is the real promise fo the Internet to me.

    And before I get those "just do it yourself on old hardware" replies, I have already done so and posted the how-to's for others [digitalelite.com]. What I'm asking for is not an easy way to set up apache. Apache is pretty easy out of the box. I'm asking for an easy, low-power apache appliance that EVEN a relatively non-technical person can set up and use. Seems cool to me. Especially coupled with a cheap DNS appliance box.

    These services beg for hardware modularization.

    Tom Caudron
    http://tom.digitalelite.com/ [digitalelite.com]
    • Tell me why we don't see cheap network appliances at Walmart and Bestbuy that accept USB drives and printers all in one convenient box.

      I see the "cheap" drive sharing boxes and the "cheap" printer sharing boxes but, given how easy it is to set up SAMBA on a VERY low end device, why don't we see any that do both?

      Because if they put them in one box, you'd only have to buy one box. And then you'd only have to upgrade one box in a few years. The way it works right now, they can sell you two boxen (and if you'

    • by Jim Buzbee (517) on Tuesday May 30, 2006 @02:36PM (#15430076) Homepage
      Plenty of places do sell them. I don't know about Wallmart, but they are available. See:
      This one [buffalotech.com] for an example. I should know, I've written reviews for a dozen or so of these things...
    • And while we're wishing, why hasn't anyone made a little hylafax box? I would think that a little fax server that emails you a pdf would be a great device, and if you incorporated a print server you could have it print the faxes as well. Yet no one seems to have such a beast.
    • Tell me why we don't see cheap network appliances at Walmart and Bestbuy that accept USB drives and printers all in one convenient box.

      It's probably firstly because Unix printing support is still a HUGE fucking pain in the ass, and secondly because the average consumer has no need whatsoever for something like that.

      See, most people only have one PC in their house. If they have more than one, they can handle having them both on if they are even using filesharing.

      The printing thing would be a giga

    • "And while I'm on the subject, why don't we see cheap server appliances for other services? Is it lack of market demand that keeps me from being about the buy a low power, cheap apache server in a box the size of a cable modem? Same for proftpd and squirrelmail/postfix/mailman? Seriously, I know the market is limited, but it's hardly non-existent! Especially if they made it easy to set up and use, then ANYONE could be an end point. That is the real promise fo the Internet to me."

      I don't think that there is

      • Frankly the only reason I think that network hard drives are so popular is that people are terrified of cracking open their PCs to install a hard drive, and they don't really understand the difference between the various external types.

        You missed that one. I have a foster home. I load the MP3's, drivers, and photos on a NAS instead of on some local drive. I also put the My Documents on the NAS. The shares are password protected and I can use any machine handy to access it. Sometimes I use a laptop. So
  • by SuperBanana (662181) on Tuesday May 30, 2006 @02:11PM (#15429784)
    The software, which is based on FreeBSD, Samba, and PHP, includes an operating system that supports various software RAID models and a Web user interface. The server supports access from Windows machines, Apple Macs

    Look. Just because MacOS X supports SMB, does not mean that SMB is an acceptable solution for file-serving to MacOS X clients.

    • SMB is absolutely glacial at file metadata/folder retrieval compared to Appleshare. Do the following test: back up a large volume via SMB using Retrospect or a similar tool on the Mac. Then repeat using Appleshare. Using SMB, the file/folder scan will progressively slow down and take hours to finish.
    • SMB does not support the character set or file-name lengths Macs REQUIRE. Yes, I said, REQUIRE. You'll discover this when you go to make an emergency backup of a mac to a SMB share and get errors about filenames that are too long, or have characters that aren't valid. A lot of applications contain files in their internal structure that violate SMB naming restrictions.
    • When Samba runs across a file that it can't display the name for...IT IGNORES IT!
    • Samba requires a lot of tweaking to get it to perform decently, and despite the usual recommended config changes, I've never been able to get Samba to perform as well as a "stock" Appleshare client.

    Netatalk has some of its own crankyness (and if you run Debian/Ubuntu, you need to rebuild the debian package with SSL support or passwords are transmitted in the clear, thanks to the OpenSSL/GNU idiocy), but it doesn't have nearly the basic functionality problems Samba does for Macs.

    Sidenote: looks like they "borrowed" the complete user interface from m0n0wall...and it looks like they MIGHT use netatalk...googling turned up some hints that netatalk might be built-in.

    • Use a spareimage (Score:3, Insightful)

      by bill_mcgonigle (4333) *
      If you need to do this, setup a sparse disk image on the SMB share and mount it. Copy files to the disk image. Slow but flawless.

      I'm also working on some docs on how to do this with rsync, which actually works much faster if you don't need to use it interactively (big if).
    • from the home page of the website (lower left):

      "The minimal FreeBSD distribution, Web interface, PHP scripts and documentation are based on M0n0wall."

      It's not like they don't give credit...

    • Ok, calm down.

      SMB has issues. You're right about that. Netatalk has issues. Whether netatalk is a step above SMB is probably a matter of taste. I've used netatalk with about 100 macs for 7 years or so, and it worked just well enough to convince me not to buy an xserve until this past year. Much better, though netatalk was a huge step above the Apple not-even-remotely-servers you could buy when I started.

      That said, the naming issues that SMB exposes aren't really a problem if you're storing audio, video
    • You seem to have an opinion on the subject, so I'll ask the same question others already have: what network filesystem would you recommend for sharing files from a FreeBSD (or possibly Linux) box to an OS X system? I'm currently using good ol' NFS to serve media files across a LAN. Is that a reasonable setup, or is there something you think should work better (faster, more compatibly)?
    • It supports NFS. Why would you even care about Samba?
  • by freelunch (258011) on Tuesday May 30, 2006 @02:24PM (#15429960)
    I always thought the OS and software were the easy part. What do folks like for hardware platforms? I don't care about 2 or 4 drive solutions - those are trivial. I'm talking 8-10 drives in the 320-500 gb range. Most turn-key solutions are Far too expensive when compared to the 'build a box' DIY alternative.

    I've been building linux boxes for this and have used Antec cases in the past with 120mm fans. Proper drive cooling and monitoring are very important. Anything beyond 5 or 6 drives means using the 5 1/4 drive bays and that gets old fast.

    What controllers? Cheap SATA controllers are a must. I couldn't care less about the $200-$400 controllers. Some controllers don't do dma correctly when you have more than one in a machine. I have played with the Syba SD-SATA-4p under Linux and it works okay (though it does not work with one amd64 machine that has a Promise ATA controller).. Price is right at about $15-$25 for four ports ($4-8/port!). I haven't tried two or more in the same machine. There does not seem to be any SMART support in the current linux driver.

    10 320 gb drives = $1150 = 36 cents/GB.
    $500 machine + $1150 = 51.5 cents/GB.
  • naslite (Score:2, Informative)

    by coconutstudio (446679)
    Naslite [serverelements.com] (free version) worked great on my salvaged P-100 32MB system running quiety and headless with nothing but a floppy drive and a 300GB HD. Luckily, it recognized the large HD (since Linux/etc bypasses bios) and I didn't need an IDE card. Performance was acceptable (good but not great) for small base of users but I wouldn't want to stick a RAID in it or have more than 5 nodes. The total system consumed total of 25-30watts (a little high compared to NSLU). Freenas looked good except for higher amo
  • Yes, but can you make a Beowulf cluster using it? That's the essential question that no one has yet asked.

    Um, in THIS story. Nobody has asked it in THIS story yet.
  • SMB,NFS,AFP-Mmmmm (Score:5, Interesting)

    by theolein (316044) on Tuesday May 30, 2006 @02:50PM (#15430218) Journal
    I have setup a Linux server to server to both Mac and PC clients on the same volumes/shares using AFP with the Netatalk [sourceforge.net] package, and SMB with Samba [samba.org]. Netatalk, in its new incarnations is by far the best non-apple AFP server available. It works seamlessly with modern OSX clients (10.3 and 10.4), supporting precomposed UTF-8 charactersets, long file names (most commercial NAS devices still only support the ancient appletalk implementation with 32 MacRoman charactersets and glacial unreliable performance) and even Bonjour/Zeroconf [avahi.org] support.

    Netatalk works surprisingly well with modern Samba versions (post 3.0) that support UTF-8 (and now even includes a netatalk module to ease compatibility), and both samba and netatalk hide one another's specific data from the other so that resource forks are kept and if the mswindows option is enabled in netatalk, the worst character problems (?\ etc in filenames) are safe.

    What I would really love to see is a system that reliably combines these, PLUS NFS for Linux shares. The FreeNAS looks good, but seesm to be a bit on the young side without decent Mac support, and god knows there are enough Mac using companies that don't want to have to fork over money for XServes.
    • What I would really love to see is a system that reliably combines these, PLUS NFS for Linux shares.
      If Linux can support a Netatalk server, surely it can use a Netatalk client as well?
  • Recovery (Score:4, Interesting)

    by babanada (977344) on Tuesday May 30, 2006 @03:01PM (#15430314)
    I threw a FreeNAS server up on my home network one day. The next day I decided to back up an XP box that had never been backed up before using the included backup program over the net. The following week I mistakenly deleted files in cygwin (watch out for the /cygdrive/driveletter, it is hidden from / and doesn't follow normal rules... that's my story anyway) and had to restore the XP box. I was able to restore the system over the network from the FreeNAS box. It was a *very* quick restore. Anyway, I like FreeNAS as a quick and easy way to do network backups/restores. The install is very quick and painless, and the BSD it runs on is stable and fast. Agreed about the security issues for corporate use, unless it is just a cheap way to make a drive and an old box into a complete recovery device... just turn it off when you aren't recovering.
  • I was looking at creating a server just for my electronic documents (which, due to professional reasons, are growing to a much to large ammount). But I don't have time nor skills nor wish to administer a full-blown professional server; I thought of creating a safe server on a BSD, in some off-the-beaten-track programming language (like Oz, or Erlang), or just use Common Lisp (Araneida web server). Put the thing in my home network for my use. Now I read about FreeNAS.

    If I understand this correctly, this woul

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